"Alcyon Memories"
I wasn't quite old enough to make it to Alcyon, but from what many Vault visitors have said, it was quite a place.  Below are a few of the memories from those who visited Alcyon and maybe if we're lucky, maybe even from a few that helped put on the show! -  Please click below to add your memories of Alcyon Speedway!

This is an aerial photo of Alcyon Speedway taken by Joe Clune, who is the son-in-law of car owner Tom Raymer. In the foreground is Alcyon Lake. Between the lake and the speedway was located Alcyon Park which was an active amusement park up until WW II. The lake shores in the early 1900's featured a boardwalk, skating rink, bowling alley and other arcade type attractions. Note the D shape of the famous 5/8's mile speedway. Alcyon is located on Holly Ave. near Lambs Road in Pitman, N.J. Holly Ave. is located on the right side of the photo. Today the speedway has been replace with a modern park. Thanks to the efforts of Ralph Richards Jr., race photographer and Pitman historian, a monument stands paying tribute to the famous speedway. Thanks, Russ Dodge 

The original track at Alcyon Park was constructed as a 1/3 mile bicycle facility in 1895. In 1910, the track was expanded to allow horses to 1/2 mile to allow horses to race on the track. To gain this additional distance, the track was "bulged out" to a D-shape form giving the new speedway its famed dog-leg and five turns. While various forms of motor sport events were held at the track in early years, The Vault will solicit pictures from the post WW II era up until the track closed in 1960. Alcyon Speedway in the 50's was the place to race. A win there was prestigious, such as a win at Reading or Flemington in later years. The top drivers from Maryland to New York would tow to Alcyon to compete in the Friday night shows. The pictures that will appear in the Vault, as time goes by, will validate the premium field of cars and drivers that race the famous speedway. To name any at this time would only slight hundreds of others that should be sighted. Notes: The track measured 50' wide for most of the way around. There was a baseball field in the infield, with a modern lighting system, used up until the late 40's The track ran on Friday nights and Holiday afternoons.

It featured a covered grandstand and bleachers along the front straight away, If you went off the track any where from the first turn to the fourth turn you went down a heck of drop and landed in trees. The track actually measured 5/8 on the outside guardrail. The Friday night show started at 8:30 to allow local ball games, wedding rehearsals and such to be over so people could get to Alcyon! (Picture and the preceeding introduction provided by Russ Dodge - Thank you Russ!)

 To View aerial images of the site of Alcyon Speedway from 1931 to present, click below:


http://www.historicaerials.com/default.aspx

Find on the left side of the page where it says "Search Imagery" and click on "By Lat / Long", and then enter the following coordinates:

Latitude: 39.7292   Longitude: -75.1452
(Coordinates provided by Mike Sienko)


Alcyon Memories From the Visitors of "The Vault"
(Most Recent Comments Appear at the Top of the List)


Joseph Hammel    02.06.11


Michael Winterton  Coventry, England  8/14/08


Holly J. Focht    06/05/08


Serenity Sharon    05/19/07


ocfs69    05/08/07

Jack Huston    08/11/06


Merit O'Neal    07/16/06


Norm Wallace    06/08/06


Mike & Cristi    02/14/06


JOE FARREN   01/27/06

RECENTLY RETIRED FROM THE AIRFORCE AND NOW LIVE IN NORTHWEST FLORIDA......LOTS OF GOOD SPEEDWAYS NEARBY........DAYTONA AND TALLADEGA.........AND SOME REALLY NICE DIRT TRACKS ALSO.


Clyde Pettit    11/04/04

I loved that track and the gang of kids I met there. I have traveled all over and never found another track that compared to Alcyon.  My Dad had a lot of pictures of the track and drivers that somehow got lost when he passed on.

We went to the Bridgeport opening and I remember us talking to Bud Olsen and Leon Manchester before the races started and Pop said it aint Alcyon and he was right.  Living in Florida now and do get to see the big blocks when they come down for the Winter Nationals.  My grandson and I don't miss a night.  I was glad to find this site so I could show him all the early cars.  I have found him visiting this site often keep up the good work.  Clyde Pettit


Dick Millar    06/18/04


Bob Avis    05/28/04


Sherrie Dornberger  03/21/04

I attended my first race at 10 days old. My mom said Helen Vail referred to me as the "Alcyon Baby." Every week when we would go to the races, Helen gave me a hotdog upon our arrival. My mom said, I would carry this hotdog with such care and conviction. I had a hard time at 2 climbing into the stands holding onto my hotdog.  She said this one week I was carrying my "dog" and climbed to our seat. I sat down, and there was only a roll! I said, "sum of a beach" someone stole my dog!My mom laughed so hard she cried. (But, she had to replace my "dog").  Anyone that knew my mom would understand where I learned my new found vocabulary! My mom did not say a sentence unless it had a curse word in it! And she was not even aware of it !

My parents both spoke of Alcyon as their second home. My dad could tell story after story about Alcyon. It was where he decided to drive his own car one week in the beginning of his career, after wrecking the car and having his nose sewn back on, he decided to only build and wrench the cars, and leave the driving to others! Now that both my parents are gone, I wished I had taken notes of all the stories. All that I know is, there are some really good races going on in heaven!

Sherrie Dornberger


Tom Bilger 10/04

  • I visited "Jersey" right after Labor Day and was fortunate enough to meet and visit with Russ Dodge prior to returning to Spokane, Wa. If you have the opportunity to visit Russ, it is time well spent if you are n Alcyon or Vineland fan. What memories!!!  Thanks Russ for your graciousness and your dedication to keeping our memories alive.

Bill Skinner  10/04

  • Be sure to see Ralph Richard's paragraph submitted 9/13/03 regarding the beautiful park today. Ralph is too modest to say he is the one most responsible for the granite monument and all the extras which make the park such a shrine to those Alcyon races we'll never forget! Thank you so much, Ralph, for helping to keep Alcyon alive!

Tom Bilger    09/17/03

  • The #19 was from Westville and was owned and driven by "Popcorn" Bill Lewis ,who owned the Popcorn concessions at Alcyon. I went thru Westville Elementary and Woodbury High schools and was in the wedding of Bill Jr.   They lived on Olive Street in Westville.  Bill Lewis hauled me to a lot of races, not only Pitman but Langhorne and a couple tracks in Delaware.  I don't know who drove the #555, Russ Dodge may be able to help on that one, but the #026 was normally driven by Jackie McLaughlin, the #44 Al Tasnady and the #88 and #88a by Ralph Smith and Ken Marriott.  Of course depending on the time frame Ken Marriott at one time drove the #44 and I believe Ed Lindsay drove the #88 at one time. This is probably more info then you wanted, but I have never been known for short answers, Tom Bilger

John L. Polson      9/15/03

  • Ah, those were the days. I was five (1955) when my Dad started to take me and a couple of friends to the track . We usually went into the infield and parked at the same light pole where we could see the cars coming out of the last turn and battle down the front straight. Jackie McLaughlin, Al Taznady, Lou Mood(the flying farmer), Bobby Becker and Bud Olson were favorites. We had to have a big 50 cent box of carmel pop corn and sit on a blanket on the hood of our 1954 Hudson Hornet. Between races we would have a game of "kick the can". We also used to go around collect beer cans and pile them at the light pole just for fun. Another memory was all of the people sitting up in the trees outside of the track watching the action. Probably the best seat in the house. 
  • I remember there was a black and white coupe #19 that we all hoped would win one race. Don't know the drivers name but every heat #19 was on the pole. By the first or second lap he was at the back or broke down. I only recall seeing him win once. I think the car was from Westville next to Crabby Al"s bar but I am not positive.. Maybe somebody can add a drivers name to old #19. Other numbers were 026, 555, 44, 88 and 88A.
  • We were regulars at the track until it closed. I remember sitting outside of our house in Sewell on the nights Dad worked and listened to the sounds of the track. Years after the track closed I would take walks just to check it out and relive memories.  I still have a couple of articles and pictures I cut out of the papers. With the park reborn I can still stand there watch my sons play soccer and see clearly in my mind great times at Alcyon Speedway!!

Sincerely -  John L. Polson       9/15/03


Ralph Richards    09/13/03

  • On this site now is Alcyon Park, it includes ballfields, a picnic pavilion, a refreshment stand built to look like the speedway scoring pagoda (with a stock car weathervane on top), a walking path (it closely follows the layout of the 5 turn track) with placards showing racing images from the 1950's along the edge. There are several park benches dedicated to former drivers at Alcyon Speedway. The center piece of the park is a granite monument with a time line on top and poster replicas and championship list on the sides to remember the Alcyon Speedway. If you are ever in the Pitman area stop by it can still be reached by turning at Track Avenue off of Holly Avenue by Alcyon Lake. If visiting the park stop by the park office and check out the memorabilia and photos from Alcyon Speedway and Park. Thank you, Ralph J. Richards, Jr.

Ken Thompson    06/15/03

  • My Alcyon memories are not as vivid as I'd like but they are wonderful to me. As an 8 year old youngster I remember my Dad taking me on many Fri nights. Of course all the big "names" were usually there along with local favorites like Lew Mood 00 (Double Nothin), Elton Hildreth (still my favorite of all time as he attended Bridgeton HS at the same time as my Mother), Al DiNatale and others. But all my memories were not AT the track. At the time, I lived in Barnsboro, the town immediately west of Pitman. I can remember sitting outside on Fri nights when I couldn’t go to the track and watch the parade of cars that used Main St.to get to Pitman. From Barnsboro, we moved to Leesburg, NJ and did not make the trips back to Pitman but when Vineland opened we started all over again with new drivers mixed with the old names. History runs in cycles. My father now lives in a retirement home in Pitman just about a mile from the park (track). Every time I visit dad I take the time to go to the park to remember and relive my youth. Thanks to Ralph Richards for all his effort to get the town of Pitman to recognize a very important part of their history.

Bill Skinner    06/15/03

  • My favorite memories of Alcyon start with my dear mother taking me swimming at Alcyon Lake and buying me a popsicle and my father taking me to the stock car races in 1954 when Freddy Fehr was king driving the red 88.
  • The memories quickly move into 1955 when Pete Corey would flat tow 5 hours each way down from Cohoes, NY to give the mighty modifieds a real run for the money in the yellow Bob Mott sportsman number 3. (I've driven for the last 40 years sitting way back in my seat like Pete did.) That year my favorite driver Jackie McLaughlin won the track championship and eight of 25 feature events driving the Lucky Jordan deuce. In later years, despite having some good rides (like the 300, the 026, and the 111), Jackie would be severely challenged at Alcyon by the best driver I ever saw- Al Tasnady!
  • I remember my first driving hero Lew Mood in his sportsman number 29 and the Maryland Boys and the invaders from Vineland Speedway. How great those drivers and cars were! Who can ever forget those incredible years when in late 1956
    and all of 1957 all of the best drivers in the area drove on the clay at Alcyon on Friday night because Alcyon and Vineland were finally racing on different nights? Each night's feature line up read like an all star program with 10 or 15 cars and drivers capable of capturing the checkered flag!
  • Did you know that the competition at Alcyon was such that there was a different track champion in each of the years 1951 through 1960? Did you know that each of the winners of the national championship in years 1957 through 1960 was a regular at Alcyon that year? No wonder I cried every time it rained on Friday and I had to wait at least another week to see my first love!
  • Thanks to Russ Dodge and Ralph Richards, Jr for unselfishly sharing your knowledge and your collections of Alcyon information, programs, newspaper articles, and photos with me! Before I met these two gentlemen a few years ago, the only single event I could fully recall from Alcyon was when a young woman driving in a Dolly Derby in 1959 flipped over the inside guard rail and landed upside down on top of a car parked in the infield in front of the main grandstand!
  • Thanks to everybody who ever took films at Alcyon and to everybody who has shared that precious footage! Please keep sharing these precious momentos with others such as Russ and Ralph and 3 Wide so that we can keep Alcyon alive! If I could relive any 3 hour event in my life (Sorry, Bette Ann, you were probably only 2 or 3 years old at the time any way), I would choose any holiday afternoon racing program at Alcyon Speedway which I might have attended with my dairy farmer father, Harvey Skinner. And I would take films this time!

Happy Fathers' Day, everybody! Bill Skinner


Ralph Richards Jr.     06/02/03    Growing Up in Pitman

  • I remember the great drivers that ran at Alcyon, but as a child, the 4th of July bicycle races and the chance to ride around Alcyon in a real stock car with my favorite driver was my two fondest memories.
  • I remember swimming at Alcyon lake on Saturday afternoon and hearing Bill and Herb Vail working on the track. When the noise stopped I would see a few men walk up the hill to look at the track. I later found out they were drivers Al Tasnady, Jackie McLaughlin and Budd Olsen.
  • Herb Vail told me that he once asked Al Tasnady to help set up his car for the race that evening. When finished, Al left to get ready for the nights racing. When Bill Vail found out that Tas had driven the track he regroomed it so he wouldn't have an advantage over the other drivers.
  • I stop and visit Herb Vail just to hear the real Alcyon memories from the man who grew up at the track. One of the funniest was when Bill Vail was getting upset with all the people climbing the trees around the track to watch the races. He told Herb to take the suck truck and suckout the cesspools. When Herb finished, Bill told him to put the pump on and ride around the edge of the track and spray the trees with the waste. Herb said it was a good idea except it smelled really bad around the track until the next rainstorm came through.
  • The memories I have growing up in Pitman are my reason for trying to preserve Alcyon's history. Lets face it, if a certain track's memories are your memories you are actually preserving your youth in the process. And that's a good thing. (Sorry Martha)

Ralph J. Richards, Jr.


Tom Bilger     05/14/03

  • It is with deep sadness that I read about the passing of George Wingate. When I was a kid in the fifties and used to go to the South Jersey Speed and Sport Shop, George was very often there helping Sonny Dornberger and Dutch Mauk. He always had a smile and would take time to acknowledge me. I guess as race fans of the "Alcyon Era", we can all hope that George, Sonny, Dutch, Otto and Jackie and all the rest will be waiting for us. Tom Bilger

Jim Murrow     05/01/03

  • I first started going to Alcyon in 1956, when I was 10. I had been a big stock car fan since I was about 5, but until '56, I had only been to Atco Speedway, a mile, (I think) Paved track about 20 miles from Alcyon. I was there every Friday night till it closed. The racing was fantastic! As mentioned above, on any given Friday night, some of the best of the best, from Maryland to NY could be seen. Regulars included McLaughlin, Olsen, Tas, Mariott, Harwi, Kagle, Guthrie, Pobletts, Lindsey, Whitehead, and more. Invaders, included, Johnny Roberts, Pete Corey, (Who usually won, with a sportsman car), Jimmy Metzler, George Harrison, and more
  • The Sportsman and Modifieds ran together. Sportsman cars were limited to 330 cu. in. and one 4 barrell carb, but otherwise were the same as the Modifieds. Some of the great sportsman drivers were Jackie Hart, Bill Wark, Sal Moschella, Henry Johnson, and many, many more. "Popcorn" Lewis, mentioned below, ran the popcorn stand, and also raced, himself . He was also the local Wynn's Friction Proofing rep, and the guy I bought a new Wynn's Jacket from every year. I Loved those Jackets! Bill Vail was agreat promoter, and it was a real shame to see the track close.
  • Alcyon, Reading and Flemington, 3 of the best ever, gone Thanks, Jim Murrow

    Note from Vault Visitor Bill D:

    I believe that 300 cu. ins. was the limit allow for sportsman cars at Nascar tracks. The reason I say this is that in one year of the late 50's, Pete Corey and Jackie Hart were competing for the National Sportsman title.  As the story goes Jackie towed into one of NY tracks (Pete Corey country) and was protested for being over sized. The motor was torn down and found to be a Chev. small block with a 4" bore x 3" stroke, making it a 301.5 cu. in engine. Jackie lost all his points earned at Nascar tracks and the National Compionship. I think the rules stated .090 over bore, any camshaft and one carb. 

    Also, Jim mentions Atco Speedway (which was located behind a saloon/bar) as possible being a 1/4 mile paved track. If memory severs me correctly it was a 3/16 of mile dirt track, with a used motor oil surface.

    Bill D.    taz3788@usadatanet.com  

Tom Bilger:  04/30/03

  • I will never forget the days and "PTL" Russ Dodge has been a God send in helping me remember the Tuesday and Friday night races at Alcyon in the mid and late 50's. To see Jackie McLaughlin, Budd Olson,Al Tasnady,Ralph Smith, Ken(Bones) Marriott and my Boyhood hero Otto Harwi along with many other greats,all starting in the back of the Feature lineup,was a time that is forever etched in my mind. Thanks, Sonny Dornberger and Dutch Mauk for the many hours they let me sit in the corner of the "South Jersey Speed and Sport Shop",  like a mouse and be in "Awe" when guys like Mike Magill and Otto would visit.  Thanks, Walt Chernokal and others for their tremendous photos. I also want to "Thank" Popcorn Bill Lewis, who hauled me to Langhorne and Alcyon when there were times I would not have gotten to races except for him. And once again, Thanks Russ.


Steve Elias sent us this poem written by the late George Wingate:

ALCYON_POEM.jpg (60050 bytes)

To Add Your Alcyon Memories, click below: 

Add your ALCYON MEMORIES Click Here

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3 Wide's Picture Vault
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Allentown, NJ  08501


From Ralph Richards:
Alcyon DVD Cover02 copy.jpg (36592 bytes)
Grover Productions is selling the History of Alcyon Speedway video for $25.00 $20.00 plus$4.00 for USPS Priority Mail shipping.  People can contact Ralph Richards at alcyon@verizon.net  or call (856) 589-7832. It is available in DVD or VHS format.



 


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